Cartagena, Mercado popular, fortress, and football match


First to the Mercado, I was wearing a Colombia shirt and as one of the only tourists at the market a lot of Colombians were very enthusiastic about it.

I bought a cap, because the sun is so strong here, I thought it might help against sun burn.

A walk back to the castle and afterwards to the old city and looking for a place to watch the football match between Colombia and England.

Colombian really go crazy for each small chance or for each time the ball is reconquered from England. In the end Colombia lost on penalties, but it had been a very close and aggressive match.

A swim in the sea, talking with some locals, cooking dinner and time to up date my blog again.

Tolu to Cartagena and city tour


I took a bus from Tolu, perfect timing, the bus was just leaving when I arrived at the terminal, but the bus was full, so the first hour I had to stand, till the first village and a couple people left the bus (all other people that were standing, and one girl that was sitting).

I arrived at the terminal and after another bus through the city, for about another hour, I arrived near a park from where I had to walk. The park was not really a park, more a garbage dump. On the dump there were a couple of crappie houses and in the back ground you see the skyscrapers that are lining the beach. As well where the hostel is there are some nice villa’s and some house that have clearly seen better times.

The hostel is simple but has a great kitchen and the people that run it are very friendly.

At 4pm there was a free walking tour in the old city.

The city is the second oldest city of South America, founded in 1533. The old town has been fortified (first part of the fortifications is of Dutch design) because of pirate attacks (for example by Francis Drake) and later as well a failed try of England to concur the city. England came with a large fleet and first concurred Panama, next they went with 3 ships towards Cartagena. The admiral already sent the message he conquered the city before he even arrived. It didn’t go as planned, he wanted to conquer the city from the land, but he had not accounted for the fort that was on this side and lost gravely. In the end he just gave up.

In 1811/11/11 the city was liberated by Bolivar from the Spanish. A couple years later the Spanish arrived and tried to reconquer the city, in the end they managed but many people had died during the battle. Later Bolivar returned to re-liberate the city and the Spanish royal troops already left before he arrived. When he asked why they had waited so long before they gave the city to the Spanish and why they had let so many die, the people said they wanted to be free. For this the city got the name the heroic.

Another name the city has is from Catalina. Catalina (not her original name) was a girl take by the Spanish when they first arrived in South America, later-on this girl would e a translator to help with peace negotiations during the conquest.

After the tour I walked back following the battlements and later on the beach towards the hostel.



I went to the mangrove forrest nearby the town and did one of the tours. The tour was not that special, it was very busy with many boats, some boats had music and the tour was not very long.

On the way however, we saw many small craps, climbing up the roots of the mangroves when the boats passed. On the roots there where as well, a lot of shells growing, the guide collected some and after arriving at a small crowded drifting hut we tried some of the shells.

Back to Tolu and for a swim and a read at the beach. After during a thunder storm I made a salat and cooked plantane (the large banana’s that you have to cook or fry).

Medellin, swimming, book exchange and a night bus


First preparing for a bus to Tolu, should be a 10/12h ride through the night, but…

After that I went to the stadium, I wasn’t sure if the swimming pool would be open because the schedule on internet was a bit weird and even after a couple calls made by the guy from the hostel to the swimming pool (not picking up, they gave him a wrong number, and not picking up again), it was still not clear, to either of us, if it was open and if people could just come to have a swim.

Near the stadium there are a lot of sport fields, an outdoor gym, basketball court, gymnastic hall, football fields and a very, very large swimming complex. After standing in the que I finally understood the weird times they had on the website. The pool is free, but you have to enter on the hour and after an hour you have to go and if you want to go again stand in line again. Actually on the website of the pool it said it was open from 13:00 till 14:30 and from 14:30 to 16:00, this was not correct either, it was open from 13:00 till 14:00, from 14:00 till… and so on.

The swimming complex had about 5 big pools, 3 50m pools and 2 25m pools. Would be a good place for a waterpolo tournament. I had to buy a goro, for my hair (3000pesos so about a euro) and then I could go swimming, but only in the one pool. When you get the ticket to enter you get a ticket for one of the pools.

After swimming I went to the botanical gardens, read a bit and returned to the hostel.

After cooking I still had some time before my night bus, I decided to try to find a spot to swap my first Spanish book, Harry Potter. I found a small book store and swapped the book for “two towers” from Tolkien, and the guys in the bookstore asked me to join them for a glass of rum. After a while I had to leave to catch my bus, but if I ever go back to Medellin I will drop by at this bookstore again.

The night bus took a bit longer than planned, instead of arriving around 9am I arrived around 1pm in Tolu. I walked to the hostel and went swimming in the Caribbean sea.

Quite a big difference with Medellin, the people look different, darker skin, the weather is different, crazy hot and wet, and the food is different more fish and more and different kinds of fruit.

Guatape, 2 days kayaking and back to Medellin


I arrived around 11:30am, we found a place to get kayaks, bought food, corn, potatoes, chorizo, packed or stuff in plastic bags and started paddling with the 3 of us, Florian from Germany (I met him in Otavalo Ecuador), Michael from the USA.

The lake is artificial, in Spanish it’s not even called a lake, they built a dam to store water. There are many small islands, it would have been perfect for camping, but…

The weather changed arounds 4pm, it had been very warm, now it started first to rain softly. The rain got stronger and it changed in to a thunder storm. The sound of the thunder on the lake was impressive.

We saw a small island with some houses and paddles to it. We put the kayaks on the land and put our stuff under a small shelter. We thought we saw smoke, not sure whether it was wish full thinking, or really a fire that could warm us up.

It turned out there was a fire, they actually had a BBQ, we talked with them and they gave us food, but they told us to stay on the island we had to pay 10.000 each (about 3euro). But we played soccer with them when the rain stopped, and when we said we couldn’t play anymore because we had to go to another island to pitch or tents (or in my case sleep under a plastic carp). They didn’t want to stop playing jet so if we kept playing we could sleep for free on the island and we could join for the rest of the BBQ and the fire they wanted to make after.

The food was good, the company was good and the fire warmed us up, was a good night.

The next day we prepared to leave, we went to say good bye and they gave us breakfast and hot chocolate.

We paddled towards the old mansion of Pablo Escobar. We had trouble finding it, people send us twice in completely the wrong direction. After the second time going wrong Michael wanted to go and we dropped him in a harbor. Me and Florian, now each alone in a kayak continued (I had been solo in my kayak till now while the other two shared a kayak).

Florian alone was a bit slower, but we still made it to the ruins of Pablo Escobar’s villa. We didn’t do the tour, but a local who had already had told me something about the place. Pablo Escobar used to have 500 estates like this one all over Colombia. This specific one he had visited himself 3 times, each time for about 3 days. Still even when he wasn’t there, there were about 400people working there through the year, on his largest estate, were he stayed most, about 4000 people though there year, like a small city.

After the house we continued back in direction of Guatape, on the way there would be a spot that they had told us was good for camping. When we got close to the campsite the rain started. We sheltered first for a while on the island where we had camped the previous night, but the weather didn’t seem to improve.

In the end we decided to just go back to Guatape, we should be able to make it before dark even if we were slow. The weather got worse, and when we were in Guatape (after waiting for a while for the guy of the kayak place), the rain got even worse and would continue to around 11pm at night.

In the evening we cooked a large part of the food, we almost had still everything because of the BBQ, so a big dinner and the next day a big breakfast, cooked plantane, yellow potatoes, corn and chorizo.

During breakfast we watch a part of the football match, but after I was done with my food I packed and took the bus to Medellin.

Now I’m updating my blog and having a coffee.

In the evening I met a girl from couchsurfing near the stadium, we had a coffee, or actually I had a coffee she had one of the many fruit juice they have in Colombia, and talked about difference between Colombia and Europa or more specifically and the Netherlands. One of the big differences for example the differences between guys and girls. Here its very common that if a guy and a girl walk together (actually it almost never happens that guys or girls go walking otherwise, or if they do its with their parents), the guy will give here a hand for anything that is more difficult then than paved road and the girl will act like she really needs the hand and will ask for it if he doesn’t help her by himself. In the Netherlands girls (luckily) don’t act like they can’t do anything. Actually, I think that a lot of girls would be offended in the Netherlands, if you give them a helping hand for something very easy.


Medellin, another city tour


The day before I had seen a group of another free walking tour that looked a bit better. I decided to join the group and I learned a lot more about Medellin. I didn’t have a reservation, because it had been fully booked, but some people didn’t show, and I could join.

Another name for people from this area is Paisa’s. Paisa;s are very proud of their culture and their background and Paisa;s have the name for being hard workers and good in negotiating (according to people from Bogota because they talk a lot and not necessarily tell the truth). They get their name from and their identity from history. Paisas are immigrants from Spain but 2 specific groups, Jews and Basque, because the area is mountain rich this area has been isolated for a long time, but this changed with the construction of the rail road. When the rail road was constructed the industrial revolution started in this area, and the started selling products throughout Colombia, giving them the name of hardworking and good negotiators.

We where told about Pablo Escobar and how he built houses and killed people. About the projects in the city where they tried to improve the worst places by changing them in to libraries or other public buildings and again about the elections and the relatively high show up of just over 50%. It was as well a very close call with in the last round the two runner ups against each other. A lot of people say the elections as well are manipulated, to prove this they have pictures of voting forma that are clearly modified, but these pictures could be modified too of course

Anyway the 2 opposing parties for the last round had very, very different ideas, in the end the more conservative and right side won. He says he will change the piece agreement with the FARC that the previous president got a noble prize for. This agreement is maybe outside of Colombia seen as a great thing but in Colombia it is a tricky topic. A lot of people don’t like it that criminals go free now and that they even get a salary. As well for the first agreement the referendum that was hold in the country was therefor as well negative. The president changed it and without a new referendum the new agreement was passed. The first time the referendum results were very close, but that the second agreement was passed without consulting the population doesn’t sit well with many people.

Medellin, jet another city tour en comuno 13


I first went to a tour in district 13. The city is divided in districts and this used to be a troublesome district. Now it seems very touristic, but a couple weeks ago there has been a territory fight. Tours are of course canceled during such periods.

With the tour our guide told us about the origin of the district. This area used to be empty, but a displaced group of people from the coastal area, displaced by the FARC, settled here because the area was empty. When they came the area was owned by a couple people, but they started building their community here at first illegally. Later on there had been an agreement that the community would slowly buy of the area of the original landowners, they never paid however, so the original owners lost the area.

The people that settled here had flad from the FARC, but after a while the FARC actually came to Medellin and ended up in this area. It became even so bad that the government had no power is this area and the FARC ruled here. If there had been a robbery, people would go to the FARC, not to the police.

Later on, the militias came here too, los Pepes for example. Both the FARC and the militias, each other’s opposites in ideology, but both trying to get their way by using terror, used this area to transport drugs over the mountains to the coast, by truck and by plain. For a while Pablo Escobar worked as well together with the FARC here.

Over time the government had a couple different actions to try to regain control (see the graffiti picture, the dices show the date and symbolize how the government gambles with the neighborhood, the birds the 2 blackops helicopters from the states, the red houses the houses with dead people), The government worked for the biggest action, operation Orion, in 2002 together with the militias and got the support of 2 blackops helicopters from the states. During the operation the FARC fled into the houses of people, since the soldiers, the blacktops and the militias didn’t know who was with the FARC and who wasn’t they just shot at everything. Many people died during this operation. In total overall the operations about 3000 people.

From 2003 till 2008 there was a peace treaty between the militias and the government in this area. The militia ruled commune 13. During their reign a lot of people got killed for having possibly a connection with the FARC, for example for being related to the barber that used to cut the hair of a known FARC member.

On the mountain in the background there is a mass grave with about a diameter of 70m. In the end one of the militia leaders got arrested, he said that is this grave are about 350 people, locals say over a 1000, no one really knows.

In all the area there are a lot of graffities showing what has happened in this area, and now the area looks very nice. The government built outdoor escalators to help older people get around in the area. OK, they destroyed 47 houses to build this and the original owners were not reimbursed, but the escalator still seems a great thing for the neighborhood. A long the route we followed with the tour there are lots of touristic souvenir shops, restaurants and people dancing or doing an improv rap on the streets.

We had dinner with the tour guide and me and another Dutch guy went to the botanical gardens. We played frisbee but after maybe throwing 4 times we were told to stop.

In the evening me and the Dutch guy went to a Language exchange. There were mostly locals and they were so interested in the Netherlands and anything we told it was really fun.

Medellin and Colombia against Poland match


Me and Tom, a Dutch guy I had met on the tour went to watch the match, or actually the reaction of Colombians to the match, at the stadium. Al most everyone was wearing the colors of Colombia, mostly the yellow football shirts.

We went to a bar and found some chairs in the back. It was fun to see how everyone reacted to the smallest chances of a goal, by either team, or when there was a foul.

Colombia won the match with 3-0, people were crazy happy. We walked around in the neighborhood to see how people celebrated and afterwards went to the botanical gardens.

Medellin playing soccer and frisbee


We went to a sport park, here can you make use of the pool, the football fields and the tennis fields for free.

We played first frisbee, just the 2 of us. Then we got some food, and returned to play football with some local kids. At the end we played a bit of frisbee.

Medellin, city tour and botanical gardens


I went to a hostel in the city center, the price had dropped because of renovations, but it was still a very nice place. I was they only non Spanish speaker, so a good place to practice my Spanish.

I went together with a Peruvian to a city tour, it was a very short tour and not the most informative. But there where still some good stories.

He told us about the elections and the peace treaty with the FARC.

About an old politician that had gotten funds from the Cali cartel, but the politician himself didn’t know. The money had been given to his son, and the information about the funds had come out because another cartel had tapped the phone calls and had made the info public. The politician had disowned his son and his son had gone to prison in Mexico.

The politician had felt ashamed and had wanted to make good by giving Medellin (I forgot why specifically Medellin) some fat statues. Medellin had at first revused because they thought he was making fun of them, but after Bogota and Cali had excepted they had done so too, receiving in the end 23 statues, Bogota and Cali had both about 3.

After the tour, the 4 of us, all of us that had joined the tour, went to the botanical gardens. We walked around and played frisbee (ultimate and just throwing) in the park. The police told us to stop, but still a lot of kids had joined us and after the other guys had left even more people joined, playing with about 15 people in the end, mostly kids, but as well some adults.

Later one family invited me to join for a drink and when the park closed for another park and later for dinner.

When we left the shopping mall where we had dinner there was a dancing class in the shopping mall, quite fun to see.

Salento to Filandia to Medellin


I took a bus to Filandia where I booked a tour to see the howler monkeys. All the reserve is privately owned, so you are not allowed to enter it by yourself.

I was first brought by motor bike to a farm where they told me to wait. After a while the lady that lived there came outside with a phone call for me, it turned I would have to wait longer, but the lady of the house invited me in and gave me milk fresh from the cow (still a little warm) and some bananas.

After a while the guide came with another tourist and we started walking. The tour would be about 3hours, first descending in the reserve on one side and returning farther up the valley back the other side.

In general, the howler monkeys have a preferred tree to sit in, a light almost white tree. This makes it easier to see them. Our guide told us that most of the time they see monkeys, but that it still happens that they don’t see any ant sometimes as well don’t hear any.

While going down we quickly heard some monkeys, I had heard them before in Bolivia where every morning in the jungle you are woken up by them. It sounds a little like the howling of the wind, but very, very strong wind. Here the sound was a little different, but still very, very loud.

After a while we saw the first family, in general a family consist of 5 or 6 monkeys, this family was about that size too but with 2 or 3 young’s. We continued up and quickly saw another family and later on even another family.

On the way as well, we saw a sloth but over a long distance, impossible to take a picture of, or to see very clearly for that matter.

We went back up and returned to the farm. They told me that the current government had plans to close everything above 3000m in Colombia, for preservation, a lot of people living above this altitude would have a lot of trouble with this. Its apparently as well one of the reasons why there are some protests by some of the communities living in national parks.

I walked around in town, read a bit and ended up taking a bus to Pareira around 6:30pm. And later after dinner and looking around in a crazy big supermarket a night bus at 11pm to Medellin.

Salento, relaxing and a coffee farm by bicycle

2018/06/18 – 2018/06/19

I put all my stuff to dry, wrote a bit for my blog and went by bicycle to a coffee farm. On the way back, the bicycle broke so we ended up hiking back up the hill.

After coming back, I booked a ticket back to Europa. On 27 August I fly from Bogota, arriving 28 of August in Frankfurt. Finally, an end date to my trip…


I changed hostels, to have a kitchen and talked a lot with the new hostel owners, was kind of like a home stay. I had lunch with them, they invited me to see the house of one of their relatives a little out of town and I just walked around in Salento.

In the evening I made a large meal.

8 Day trek in Los Nevados


Day 1; I left the hostel around 8am taking a jeep to Cocora valley. From there the hike started up. The weather got crappier and crappier while going up and half way I met a group of French and one Polish girl that were taking shelter at a farm house, I joined them while I had lunch and we waited till it got dry.

When it was dry again we left but quickly the rain started again, I left the group and continued solo, I didn’t want to arrive in the dark (which as it turned out was correct, the last part they walked with headlights). Around 4pm I was at finca primavera, kind of a hostel, I had stayed here 3years ago as well.

Day 2; This would be a shorter day, as it turned out the shortest day of the entire track. I left around 10am and with around 4pm I was at the base camp of Tolima, with 5200m the second highest volcano of the park. I had heard a lot of different stories about this one, people from the finca had told me that to leave the finca at 1am, or the basecamp at 1am, or the camp at the lake at one 1am, this didn’t make sense since the base camp and the camp at the lake where according to them 4hours from the finca, this didn’t make sense either because the basecamp was farther away and higher than the camp at the lake. Anyway, I didn’t really trust their info.

I met 2 guys as well, that had been there the day before, they told me the glacier was inaccessible because of heavy snow. They turned out to be right especially since the night that I camped there about 20cam extra snow fall during the night. My tent had it heavy and I had to remove snow during the night by kicking from inside to the roof and sides of the tent.

Around 4pm I was at the basecamp and went for another small hike to find water, In the end I only found puddles, but with the water filter I could at least get about 1.5l of water from this.

Day3; The snow had transformed landscape and with the strong wind it took a long time to pack, but the view was great. Since going to the peak didn’t seem to be an option I just packed and continued towards some hot springs. The path went between large friallejoles (the typical outer worldly plant from this area with furry leaves and a thick stem that grows 1cm a year), some were as high as 4m, or in other words about 400years old.

The path descended to finca with some hot springs, for 5000pesos, about 1.66euro, I had a host chocolate, that didn’t taste like chocolate but taste great after the snow and went for a swim in the “cold pool” which was still about 30 degrees Celsius.

The guy that lived there explained me the route towards laguna Otun from where I planned to go the second glacier in the park.

On the way from the hot springs I found a bamboo stick which would turn out to be of great help on the rest of the hike. Quickly after finding it I had to cross a river, I couldn’t jump stones, the stream was strong and the water about a meter deep at its deepest at the shallow spot I picked to cross. I only was able to make it because of the extra balance I got from the stick and even then, although I had stripped down to my boxers, my boxers had gotten a little wet…

The path went up past another finca, no people where there, only aggressive kievits. And later, another finca named Africa, where they directly invited me in, gave me an agua panela (hot drink made with cane sugar), and I watched how they were making cheese.

I continued, and shortly after the finca the path disappeared, I had to cross a swamp, with floating plants and quicksand really cool to see but a little tricky to find a save and dry way to get through. This took as well longer than I expected, and I camped on the higher flat area in a small opening between the friallejoles. Beautiful sunset.

Day 4; I packed my tent and continued without path, till suddenly there was a clear trail again, it would disappear again but reappear every time again. The path went past a couple lakes and down to lake Otun. Here there was a camp side next to the ranger’s house.

The ranger wasn’t there but when he arrived they let me camp under an over capping, so the tent would stay dry. They gave me cheese with bread, agua panela, and later on some very tasty kind of fried liver sausage and pasta, a very good dinner compared to my own pasta or instant mashed potatoes with instant soup.

Day 5; the ranger had told me a certain part of the park was closed, but told me as well that if I left early he would not know I had gone there. So, I left early but I didn’t find the correct path and made another loop, still very beautiful, but my clothes were soaked from trying to get through the vegetation. On the way I saw a small kind of deer and lots of rabbits. Later when I came back after this loop trail and the ranger gave me again some food (wraps and apples for later) he told me he had never seen this deer, but when we hiked together later, and he showed me where the path started I had wanted to take before, he did show me some of the foot prints of this deer.

So, although not allowed he helped me to find the path up to nevado Santa Isabel. I walked up and around 4300m pitched my tent. With an almost empty backpack I continued to the peak and around 5:30pm was back at y tent, a quick dinner and to bed.

Had been a long day but with great views of lakes and glaciers on top of the nevado.

Day6; I packed and walked the high route around the lake, again great vies of lakes and a couple of eagles was circling around.

I went down to the lake and finished to loop back to the ranger station. I had promised to let him know that I was ok. He wasn;t there but I wrote (with a piece of soap because I didn’t hve a pen) a note that I was okay. I walked back to the path and met the ranger, now on a horse, so he told me how to get back to Salento. I passed some geysers and followed a path down the valley.

I changed my course to go past another peak and laguna leone and laguna negro. This turned out to make the hike a lot longer.

I walked passed a finca and after drinking a hot chocolate (that didn’t taste like chocolate but tasted great again), we walked together towards the lakes, he had to go there to with a young calf, but since the calf didn’t want to, I went ahead.

The path got smaller and smaller and from laguna negro was completely gone. In the end I made it to laguna leone and set up my tent there. I could see a little of the path on the other side, but the path just went down to a swamp, so it was better to camp here.

Day 7; The path disappeared within the first 100m, with the use of the apps mapsme and OsmAnd on my phone I found after about 2hours again a path leading to the pass of 4200m. If the weather was okay I wanted to climb the peak and by doing so I could take a short cut to the refuge/finca where I had stayed the first day.

After the pass I followed the path but since the path really went the wrong direction after a while I went a little back and decided to try another direction. I found again a path and after passing a peak I could see laguna encanto, down in the valley where I had to go. I continued and around 5:30pm I finally made it to the finca. It had been a long day.

Day 8; Around 9am, I continued hiking through the mud, back towards Salento. Around 5pm I was back in the hostel where I had started a little over a week ago.

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